Brown Thomas – how we laughed


On Sunday I went to see the new Pedro Almodovar film ‘Pain and Glory’ at the Irish Film Institute. It is a wonderful film.

Before the screening I was plonked on my chair watching the adverts when a very strange clip started playing. It was clearly an advert – but for what. There wasn’t a single clue offered. The piece featured an impossibly beautiful young couple lobbing the gob on each other in various, artistically lit, beautiful set pieces. They were shifting in the water, on land, in the woods, in their tastefully appointed, luxurious home, everywhere. Meanwhile a romantic piece of music played over the imagery of the tonsil hockey. The singer telling us of the earth shattering love between the French kissers. About how their love would get each other through. Tragedy in flattering lighting envelops the couple for a brief moment. Their love tastefully endures however. Continue reading Brown Thomas – how we laughed


Theatrical: ‘Champions of dance’ by the Lords of Strut, at the Fringe

In 2016 I discovered that Dublin held a fringe festival every September, which occurred just before the Dublin Theatre Festival. It showcased more offbeat, less mainstream work. I was new back in town and excited to have instant access to English language theatre. I went to several shows that year – one of which was called ‘Riot’ (read my review HERE). One of the most memorable elements of that show was the Cork comedy-dance duo The Lords of Strut. The same pair are back at the Fringe this year with their latest show called ‘Champions of dance’ on the Peacock stage of the Abbey Theatre. Continue reading Theatrical: ‘Champions of dance’ by the Lords of Strut, at the Fringe

Theatrical: ‘Venice Preserved’ at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon


I was in the beautiful Midlands country town of Stratford-upon-Avon last weekend. As well as my journeys to see William Shakespeare’s family home; the family home of Anne Hathaway; the marital home of AnnWill (the Brangelina style moniker I have just bestowed upon the couple); the marital home of their daughter Judith; the resting place of the entire Shakespeare dynasty; the school room of Big Will; the nearby Warwick castle; I also went to the theatre. Well it was obvious that I would. When one visits the town associated with the greatest writer in the English language one really ought to make an effort. Continue reading Theatrical: ‘Venice Preserved’ at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

Theatrical: ‘Angela’s Ashes’ – a Limerick tale


Say what? A musical about a misery-lit classic ‘Angela’s Ashes’? How on earth was that going to work? The book told the tale of a young Frank McCourt, whose Limerick mother Angela, and Antrim father Malachy move back to Limerick from Brooklyn during the Great Depression while Frank is just an infant. They live lives of abject misery and poverty in the tenement slums of Limerick, largely because of Malachy’s alcoholism. Dead siblings, hunger, relentless rain, fleas, consumption, outdoor facilities shared with the street, it was an unremittingly grim tale. Eventually Malachy relocates to Coventry, where he drinks his wages and rarely sends a copper to feed his hungry clan. Angela and the children are evicted, and she becomes the ‘housekeeper’ for her sinister older cousin. Frank takes work as a telegram delivery boy who vows to save all his pennies and return one day to America to make his fortune. Continue reading Theatrical: ‘Angela’s Ashes’ – a Limerick tale

Theatrical: ‘This beautiful village’ – a review

Decades ago, while driving to town with my mother and sister, we passed a wall, on which was emblazoned a girl’s name in graffiti (she was in school with us.) The statement read ‘Lettuce Bolognese is a rag’ (Lettuce Bolognese not being her real name). My sister and I creased up with laughter. Not out of any spite towards poor Lettuce, but rather through the sheer venom and malice of the scrawl.  Children can be very cruel. The graffiti remained on the wall for several weeks. To this day, I feel bad for poor Lettuce – she had to endure that horror for weeks. I still don’t know what the graffiti meant but I know that it was not complimentary. Continue reading Theatrical: ‘This beautiful village’ – a review

Queer shenanigans at G.C.N.


Yesterday I paid a visit to see the ‘Pathfinders’ exhibition at Dublin Castle. Currently on display in the Coach House until 29th August, it is a black and white photography exhibition by Paul Connell. It shows some of the founders of the gay liberation movement in Ireland. All the subjects are captured against the same backdrop giving a nice flow to the display. It was impressive. I recognised many of the faces – David Norris; Ailbhe Smyth; Suzy Byrne; Tonie Walsh; Phyllis Stein among others. I only wish the names of all the subjects could have been included so I could put names to the faces. I wondered how many of the images were of people outside of Dublin. Precious few I thought – cynically – to myself. Sadly, but understandably the LGBT movement in Ireland was – and remains – centred in the capital. Unfortunately some of the efforts of the community outside of Dublin are forgotten to history. Continue reading Queer shenanigans at G.C.N.

Theatrical: ‘Kinky Boots’


Last night for the second night in a row I was at the theatre– my fourth trip in the past fortnight. Sadly, in this instance I had to actually pay for my ticket – unusual having developed a cunning skill of sourcing freebies. As one would only hope – I go so often to the theatre, that my diet would consist of congealed bread and dripping with a side order of gruel, if I had to pay for all these tickets. Last night I went full Broadway, attending ‘Kinky Boots’ in the unfortunately named Bord Gais Energy Theatre (which thankfully has been re-christened as the ‘Bored Gays Theatre’ by some wags thanks to the fact that it shows big West End shows – in RingsEnd). Continue reading Theatrical: ‘Kinky Boots’

A night at the opera: ‘The Hunger’


The Irish Famine of 1845 to 1849 is one of those catastrophic events whose aftermath is still felt in the modern day – Ireland remains one of the only countries in Europe (perhaps the only country?) whose 2019 population remains considerably lower than it was in 1840. Its effects still resonate. Modern day Ireland speaks English as a native language thanks to the almost fatal blow dealt by The Famine to the Irish language – the tongue remaining on state subsidised life support ever since; with only a tiny percentage of people who still speak it as their mother tongue. It is a difficult subject to discuss neutrally because of an ongoing discussion on how much the effects of the natural disaster of the potato blight, are directly attributable to centuries of English colonialism – a subject which seems largely swept under the rug in that fair land. Continue reading A night at the opera: ‘The Hunger’

Theatrical: ‘The Roaring Banshees’


Yesterday afternoon I finished work early and headed over to the Convention Centre close to my house. This weekend is the World Con 2019 (World Science Fiction Convention). I know the director of the opening ceremony and I had written a short piece based on a collaborative idea about Halloween. It was to be performed by Firedoor Theatre as part of the ceremony. Set on the night of Samhain (Halloween) a Druid, Banshee and Morrigan – the Irish queen of war – are in an underworld bar having a drink after a night of mayhem. The Viking Brodir – slayer of Brian Boru – enters, accompanied by a failed actor from the over-world. Shenanigans ensue.

As I was heading to the theatre later, I went to watch the dress rehearsal. It was the largest theatre ever for something I have participated in. The capacity is about 2000 people. The actors were miked up and in costume and did a couple of run-throughs which seemed to go smoothly. The gigantic live screen at the back of the stage was wildly intimidating. I wished them luck and exited the theatre, to promptly get lost in a maze of red carpeted corridor. It was as if I was in ‘The Shining’. Keeping a keen eye open for ‘RED RUM’ on the walls, I entered a lift and ended up in the cavernous kitchens in the bowels of the building. A kindly kitchen porter showed me the exit, and I emerged into the day light, with eyes blinking. Continue reading Theatrical: ‘The Roaring Banshees’

A crappy soap opera from the Wastelands


The tale I am about to tell is both grubby and murky, involving clashing egos; overweening ambitions and sordid intentions among middle management. It begins about a year ago when a company (let’s not say which one) based in the Wastelands of County Dublin hired a sprightly new manager. As anyone who works in the coalface of office administration knows,  a new manager needs to tread carefully. They have to be assertive enough to stamp their authority on a team fairly fast, lest they reveal themselves to be a pushover. On the other hand they need to be aware of the septic fog of office politics seeping from every corner. Identify the gossips and the surly lumps early, and love-bomb them,  to ward off their negativity. It is a tightrope that requires delicate navigation. Let’s call the villain of this piece Sinead Lovejoy (not her real name). Continue reading A crappy soap opera from the Wastelands